One day after becoming the new owner of the Cleveland Browns, Jimmy Haslam introduced the new CEO of his franchise, Joe Banner. Both men took to the dais in Berea to give brief opening statements and field questions from the media, with the constant theme on improving the overall experience for the fans -- starting first with the product on the field.
Banner stressed the importance of ownership in the NFL, calling it a "key differentiator," and he said he didn't take any other meetings after his introductory sit-down with Haslam. The former Eagles executive had success turning around the Philadelphia franchise, and he stated that he didn't think it would take very long for the fans in Cleveland to start seeing progress and feel that "these guys know what they're doing."
Both men were asked repeatedly about the constant turnover at the C-level with the Browns, and while Banner did indicate he thinks they'll turn things around, he avoided lofty statements on the future, "I know these fans have been through a lot of hopeful starts," Banner said. "I don't want to sit up here and be the next 'promiser.' We're going to work as hard as we possibly can to reward the fans, and make it fun for everybody."
The Plain Dealer's Mary Kay Cabot asked Banner if he felt the Browns were a "sleeping giant" from a marketing standpoint, and Banner emphasized the tremendous fan foundation already in place that made the franchise so attractive to him, and Haslam:
That's why we're here. We talked about this, and frankly, we met before there was a franchise necessarily identified. It's a tremendous opportunity, it's just waiting to happen. I don't want to go to a city where you spend most of your time figuring out how to try and sell the tickets. We're somewhere where the passion already exists, and we can take that to the next level. We can reciprocate the passions that the fans have been giving to this franchise.
Banner insisted that all aspects of the franchise would be evaluated, from how long it takes to get from your car to the stadium, to concession lines, to the scoreboard. But he always came back to the product on the field, which he said begins with the drafting and re-signing of drafted players.
The new CEO will now head back to Philadelphia, officially taking the full-time position next week on Oct. 25. But after back-to-back days of introductory press conferences, Browns fans have to be enthused about the new men running the show.